The 7th Annual Spencer C. Duncan Make It Count 5K Run/Walk was Aug. 4 at the New Century AirCenter in Gardner.
Army Specialist Spencer C. Duncan, who was from Olathe, was one of 30 U.S. servicemen who died along with a working military dog on Aug. 6, 2011 when their Chinook helicopter was shot down in Afghanistan. It remains the worst single-day loss of American life in the Afghan war.
This annual event always occurs on the first Saturday in August. Each serviceman who died in the crash will be honored on the Boulevard of the Brave along the course. In addition, photographs of each of them will be on display nearby in a Chinook.
Spencer, who was 21 years old, was the son of Dale and Megan Duncan, Olathe. He was the oldest of their three sons.
Spencer was a 2008 graduate of Olathe South High School. This year he would have celebrated the 10thanniversary of his high school graduation.
Shortly after Spencer’s death, his parents created the Spencer C. Duncan Make It Count Foundation to honor and assist veterans. The annual run/walk is the not-for-profit foundation’s primary fundraising event.
The foundation has raised about $400,000.
Dale and Megan Duncan received the 2018 Children’s Mercy Community Champion Award at the Kansas City Sports Commission Banquet on June 7 in Kansas City. This annual award honors “an individual sports fan, volunteer or advocate that has made a public and longstanding commitment to sports in the Kansas City community and is committed to bettering Kansas City through sports.”
“We were very honored and humbled to receive this award,” Megan Duncan said. “But we are adamant that this award belongs to the amazing team of volunteers whose Herculean efforts make this a successful event each year.”
The foundation has provided $500 book scholarships to more than 250 veterans at six colleges and universities. The schools are Baker University, Baldwin City, Kan.; Cleveland University-Kansas City; Johnson County Community College, Overland Park; the University of Central Missouri, Warrensburg; the University of Kansas, Lawrence; and the University of Missouri-Kansas City.
In addition, the foundation has sponsored more than 40 participants through Warriors’ Ascent, a local experiential healing opportunity for veterans and first responders.
And, among other things, the foundation has provided funding for 17 people to go through a veterans entrepreneurship program at Oklahoma State University, Stillwater.
The words “make it count” were ones Dale regularly said to Spencer and his other two sons. Just before Dale said goodbye over the phone to Spencer for the last time, it was Spencer who said, “I know, Dad. Make it count.’”
Dale and Megan Duncan contend that Spencer did make it count and that he still does. One of the ways Spencer does that is through the foundation. The Duncans are determined to help other veterans make it count too.
“We know we can’t solve all problems for all veterans,” Megan Duncan said. “What we can do is give someone hope. If we give one person hope, we can change that person’s life. If we change one life, we can change the world.”
For the first time, an Apache helicopter was on display at the event. For more information, go to MakeItCountToday.org.